Team Preview #5: San Antonio Spurs
by Eric Wong AKA Roto EvilAugust 5th, 2008
LAST SEASONThe Spurs won 55+ games for an absurd 8th year in a row. They were one of the top defensive teams in the league, but they didn't have enough firepower to get past the Lakers. Fantasy-wise, their slow 88.8 pace factor (28th of 30) and balanced rotation (9 players averaged 17+ minutes but NONE were over 34) continues to limit the values of their players.
OFFSEASON MOVESKey Additions: Roger Mason, George Hill, Malik Hairston, James Gist, Anthony Tolliver
Key Losses: Brent Barry, Michael Finley?, Robery Horry?
San Antonio lost Brent Barry to Houston, but when you consider that Roger Mason is also a very good outside shooter, plus he's 9 years younger and a superior defender, it's a move that makes sense for them. The status of both Finley & Horry is still up in the air, but it wouldn't surprise me if Horry retired and Finley went to Boston. When you throw in all of their new draft picks and consider how few dunks they had in '07-08, the Spurs are clearly trying to get younger.
ROTATION / PLAYING TIMEIt's still a 3-man show in San Antonio. Tim Duncan will play 34 mpg and put up 20 and 10 (or 19 and 11) as usual. Manu Ginobili played a career-high 31.1 mpg in '07-08, and with the departure of Barry (and possibly Finley), that number could rise to 32-34 this season. Year in and year out, Manu is one of the most productive per-minute guys in the NBA, but Popovich likes to keep him fresh. Tony Parker is younger than those guys, so I'm expecting his 33.5 mpg to go up slightly this season.
But what about everyone else? Well, if the Spurs continue to give Bruce Bowen 30+ minutes, they DESERVE to get knocked out of the playoffs. The guy's stats are horrible, and at 37 years old, he isn't getting any better. I know, he's in there for his defense and 3-point shooting, right? Well, Ime Udoke (18.1 mpg) is pretty damn good at those things as well, not to mention being a much more versatile player who can actually make free throws (Bowen is a career 57.5% FT shooter). Udoka was signed to replace Bowen in 2010, but I'm predicting it happens this year, so I'll project 24 mpg for both players.
At center, Fabricio Oberto (20 mpg) & Kurt Thomas (18.7 mpg w/ S.A.) will once again be one of the most rugged and boring duos in the league (yawn). Roger Mason will get about 20 minutes of run backing up both guard spots, and could have value if someone gets hurt (in 9 starts last year, he averaged 17.4 points 3.4 assists, and a whopping 2.8 threes per game on 52.6% FG shooting). I would also like to see Ian Mahinmi and/ or Matt Bonner get a chance to play more, for purely selfish reasons. I've mentioned Mahinmi as a possible future fantasy star before, and I caused a ruckus (not really) by selecting the "best redhead in the NBA" as the 12th man for my All-White team. And you never know... if Timmy goes down, one of them could have serious fantasy value.
DON'T SLEEP ON: Tony ParkerIt feels weird hyping up Tony Parker, because he's a former Finals MVP whose real-life value is much greater than his fantasy value. But I think most owners are so jaded by his inability to make threes & free throws, that he could fall further than he should this year. In '07-08, his shooting (49.4% FG, 25.8% 3P, 71.5% FT) was much worse than the year before (52.0% FG, 39.5% 3P, 78.3% FT), so those numbers could bounce back nicely in '08-09. Parker also averaged a career-low .80 steals per game last season, so expect that number to rise as well. I'm not saying you should use an early-round pick on him (see below), but he's entering his prime (26 years old) and his numbers can only improve.
BE CAREFUL OF: Bruce BowenI'm not even talking fantasy hoops now. Bruce Bowen is a dirty competitor, so if you're an NBA player reading this, watch out for the guy. As I suggested above, his ass will be riding the pine more often this season, so he'll likely be even more irritated and aggressive than usual. You frail guys like Kevin Martin need to be ESPECIALLY careful. I don't want to use a 2nd Round pick on you expecting a breakout season, only to see you miss some games because Bruce Bowen undercut you.
ROUND BY ROUND TARGETS(Where you should draft these guys in an 8-cat Roto league with 12 teams and 14 man rosters)
Ginobili: 3rd - 4th